Film Review: Blade Runner 2049

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The cultural significance of Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner (1982) has always hinted at the potential for a possible sequel, and by bringing masterful director Denis Villeneuve into the fold, it was the perfect choice to take this wonderful saga forward. Whilst watching this tremendous piece of art, it’s very clear that this movie was going to be the hardest movie to review in terms of not spoiling anything because  it seems impossible to have a plot twist in the very first scene. Throughout this whole film, we get surprise after surprise and not only are they delivered in a stunning manner but they are also pretty mind-bending.

Truly Blade Runner in it’s prime

Blade Runner 2049 takes place 30 years ahead of the original Blade Runner and is set in a world that mostly consists of Replicants, who are A.I. humans. We follow K (Ryan Gosling), an LAPD officer or ‘Blade Runner’ who is sent to uncover a mysterious scene of events that have occurred with a recently retired (killed) replicant. That’s as far as this can go without spoiling a thing.

The most loveable aspect of this movie is the homage and admiration it pays towards the original film. If you love Blade Runner then you will love this film but also, if you hate Blade Runner then you will hate this film. Whilst the original deals with the individuality of replicants, 2049 deals with the mutuality of replicants but executes it in such a alluring fashion.

Masterfully directed and technically indomitable 

The pacing is something to be acknowledged if you are planning to see it because it really doesn’t mind taking it’s time with how it describes and evaluates on the world, the plot, characters etc. It certainly isn’t told at a boring pace but it is deliberately slow which shows Denis Villeneuve isn’t afraid to get the most out of the film’s intelligent and beautiful story. Fortunately, with it being slower comes some breathtaking and awe-inspiring visuals. It still doesn’t seem like enough to say that this is a beautiful film and with both Villeneuve and the master of cinematography Roger Deakins behind the camera, although it was to be expected even from the trailers, it was still visually mind blowing. If Deakins doesn’t finally win his more than deserving Oscar then quite frankly the Academy better have a good bloody excuse. 

If you’re a Blade Runner fan and you’re worried about this filming ruining that raw and futuristic feeling that it executed so perfectly, you certainly won’t be disappointed. What contributes greatly to the beauty and homage of this film is the score by Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch. It is phenomenal and such a treat for the ears. Also, this is very much a cyber-noir film not only transmitted through it’s sound and use of voiceovers but through the use of shadows and chiaroscuro lighting. There’s one shot in the beginning that is particularly beautiful due to it’s use of shadows and lighting.

Affecting and Oscar worthy 

As 2049 is of course a huge blockbuster movie, one would expect the acting to be relatively standard, but the mercurial Ryan Gosling transcends the idea of just an ordinary performance, commanding 95% of the screen time in this film and revelling in every second of it. He initially channels his inner Driver to replicate another seemingly emotionless role much like Deckard in the first film, yet seamlessly transforms his performance into a beautifully moving piece of work that could render him an outside chance of an Oscar nomination in a wide open race. Other Oscar talk surrounds the brilliant return of Harrison Ford as the original ‘Blade Runner’ Rick Deckard, with his surprisingly short performance being hugely affecting and very, very worthy of an overdue 2nd Oscar nomination for the man himself.

The guys behind this film definitely knew where this film came from and didn’t go down the sequel root that we have seen many others go down, making it all about the action and explosions. This film is a detective noir if anything, and in terms of a sequel that not only captures the qualities of it’s predecessor but also evolves it’s originality, then it really stands on it’s own two feet.

The Verdict

Undoubtedly Oscar worthy in a number of categories, not to mention Best Picture and Best Director, the only fault barely possible to find in this incredible piece of cinema is that there could have been a more of the exceptional Jared Leto. This film is quite possibly the best and most perfectly personified sequel ever witnessed but for that to be your opinion, that would depend on whether or not you liked the original Blade Runner and even though 2049 might not reach the legacy of 1982 film, it does certainly take what made it so brilliant and expands on it to create a masterpiece of a sequel. 

Rating: 10/10

Words by Kieran Hunter and Elliott Jones

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